Authorities in Hudson Valley Cracking Down on Distracted Driving


April has been deemed “Distracted Driving Month.” In order to draw attention to the dangers of driving while using a portable electronic device, New York State Police have launched a week-long campaign to crack down on distracted driving and will be issuing a greater than average number of tickets for the offense. A similar campaign last year resulted in state police issuing over 1,000 tickets, with 550 of those for distracted driving offenses.

The dangers associated with distracted driving are great. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2013, over 3,100 people were killed and 424,000 were injured by distracted drivers in the U.S., with 10% of fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers. According to one survey, approximately 18% of drivers have reported sending a text or email while driving, with approximately 46% of drivers between 18-24 having sent emails or texts while driving. 13% of 18-20 year olds and 12% of 25-34 year olds were either talking on the phone, sending a text, or reading a text at the time of a crash or near-crash experience in the previous year. Rates of cell phone involvement in vehicle crashes may be even higher than reported, due to the difficulty in proving that a driver had been distracted by an electronic device prior to an accident. Researchers estimate that individuals spend roughly five seconds with their eyes off the road when reading or sending a text or email. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that five seconds is the equivalent of driving blindfolded down the length of a football field.

New York Ban on Texting While Driving

New York drivers are barred from using any handheld electronic devices, laptops, two-way messaging devices, electronic games, or other portable computing devices while driving. Such device use may be permissible where: the driver uses a hands-free device to speak on the phone; the handheld electronic device is affixed to a vehicle surface; the GPS unit being used is attached to the vehicle; or when the phone call is for the purpose of communicating an emergency to the police or fire department. Penalties for violating the ban on Distracted Driving can be steep for New York drivers. The driver will incur five points on his or her license, as well as a $50-200 fine for a first offense. For a third offense, the penalty could be as high as $450, and for drivers with a probationary license or learner permit, being found using a portable electronic device will result in a mandatory 120-day suspension of the driver’s license or permit.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a negligent or distracted driver, you may wish to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the overwhelming world of accident investigation and insurance claims. Make sure your interests are fully represented by calling Basch & Keegan for a no-cost consultation on your motor vehicle accident case. Call (845) 338-8884 to discuss your car crash case in the Dutchess, Orange, or Ulster County region.